What is Honey Cured Ham?
A ham is said to be honey cured when honey plays a significant role in the mixture of ingredients used in the curing solution. Honey cured ham is a highly popular meat because of the distinct honey flavor, and it can be found sliced and whole in many delis. When choosing a ham, think about how you intend to use it. Sliced smoked honey cured ham is highly useful for sandwiches and meat platters, for example, while a whole ham can be roasted and served at a dinner party. In all cases, the meat should not have any mold or discoloration, and if it is fully cooked through smoking, you should ask to taste it.
A ham is the thigh or buttock of an animal. It has come to be used specifically to refer to pigs. In some countries, anything labeled a “ham” comes from a pig, while products made from other animals must include a clarifying prefix, as is the case with turkey ham, for example. The thick thighs of pigs have been used as a food source for centuries. The meat can easily be preserved through curing, and a number of curing techniques have been developed in various countries over the centuries.
Meat curing breaks down into two categories: wet and dry curing. A honey cured ham is wet cured, meaning that the ham is soaked in a brine solution for a set period of time. The tangy flavor of the salty brine is offset with the addition of honey. As the ham soaks, it absorbs the brine, killing potentially harmful bacteria and being colonized by good bacteria. Wet curing is essentially fermentation, and the curing process creates a distinctive flavor as well as preserving the meat.
After being wet cured, most honey cured ham is smoked. The smoking process further preserves the meat, which can be eaten as is or slowly roasted with other ingredients. Honey cured ham is also available in an unsmoked form, which is much less shelf stable. Unsmoked hams can be found for sale at the grocery store, especially around Christmas, as ham is served on some Christmas tables. Many butchers and grocery stores encourage consumers to order special meats ahead of time, in order to ensure that a ham will be set aside.
Some countries have labeling laws which dictate which foods can be considered “honey cured ham.” As a general rule, honey must make up at least 50% of the sweetening in such a ham. Beyond that, flavorings can be adjusted by individual butchers, and the flavor can be further altered or enhanced with specific woods during the smoking process.
@earlyforest -- I have a basic honey baked ham recipe that I use every year, if you're interested. Here's what you do:
Take a cup of honey, 3 tablespoons of corn syrup (dark), 1/3 cup of butter, 3/4 tablespoons of dried mustard powder, 2 tablespoons of orange or pineapple juice, 1/4 cup of whole cloves, and your ham.
Treat the ham as you normally would (i.e., score it with the crosshatch pattern and put it to roast in the oven, flipping it over halfway through).
While your ham is roasting, take all the ingredients except for the cloves and combine them in a bowl. Put them on the stove at medium heat, and then bring it to a rolling boil, stirring all the while. Bring your heat down to low and let it cook for one minute, being sure not to let anything stick.
Now, when your ham is 30 minutes away from being done, take it out and stud it with the cloves, but be careful not to burn yourself -- those hams get hot!
Then pour the glaze over the top, and put it back in the oven, reglazing it every 10 minutes. You can keep the remaining glaze to serve with the ham.
Hope that helps -- it's a long-term classic for me, so I hope it works just as well for you!
Can anybody give me a good honey cured ham recipe? Usually I just buy a big boneless curing ham for Christmas, but this time I want to do it up properly with the honey glaze and traditional ham recipe.
Do you guys have any good (yet not hideously difficult) recipes for me to try, or know of somewhere where I could find some?
Is there anything better than a spiral sliced honey cured ham for Christmas -- I think not! There's just something about the mixture of the sweetness of the glaze with the saltiness of the ham...and the slight crunch you get then you first bite into it. And it makes such great leftovers too, because you always end up with leftovers since the ham is go huge.
I remember one year my family got two honey cured hams (I really don't know what possessed my dad to do so, since we never finish the one we get every year) and we were eating ham sandwiches for a month afterwards.
And now I'm making myself hungry! Christmas needs to get here sooner so I can have my honey spiral ham. Do you guys have a food like that in your family holiday gatherings, one that you just can't imagine having the meal without?
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